Using Culturally Relevant Teaching to Develop Critical Thinking in Secondary Chemistry


Using Culturally Relevant Teaching to Develop Critical Thinking in Secondary Chemistry
Emily Hamel
Degree Name
Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)
Project Type
Action Research Project
This action research was conducted in order to enhance student engagement and critical thinking skills in a rural, secondary chemistry classroom. Culturally relevant pedagogy was used as a framework for designing curriculum and incorporating new practices into teaching an inquiry unit about chemical reactions and environmental pollution. After a literature review was conducted to gather evidence of culturally relevant practices in the science classroom, three types of qualitative data were gathered during the teaching of the unit designed around culturally relevant framework. A qualitative analysis was conducted on the three sources of data (journal entries, formal observation feedback, and student artifacts). The results expressed three themes: Lived experiences and real-world applications in student engagement; Genuine critical thinking opportunities in inquiry; and
Counter-narratives and perspectives in the solutions aspect of inquiry. It was discovered that student engagement increased when the science content surrounded one common theme for the unit, and when content is contextualized with students' experiences and background knowledge. Further, supporting student responses with feedback that encourages critical thinking engaged students in developing their critical thinking skills, which were then applied when considering other perspectives and scientific thinking from other cultures in the formation of solutions in inquiry.
Committee Member
Xiaopeng Gong
Jennifer Hampel
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